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Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus
c.477-c.570. Roman noble, statesman, scholar, and monk. Under Theodoric the Great and the regency of Amalasuntha he was successively quaestor, consul, magister officiorum, and praetorian prefect. His official Variae (twelve books of imperial edicts and decrees) is an important source for knowledge of late Roman administration and of the Ostrogothic kingdom. After the collapse of Gothic rule he withdrew about 540 from Ravenna to the monastery he had built at Vivarium on his ancestral estate in Calabria on the shores of the Gulf of Squillace. He made his foundation a great center of secular and religious learning; he established the copying of manuscripts and helped to create the monastic tradition of preserving classical culture in the Dark Ages. His own Institutiones Divinarum et Saecularium Litterarum (550-60) was a classic, advocating the Augustinian fusion of secular and sacred learning in Christian education. The first part is an introduction to theological study, and the second a manual of studies on the seven liberal arts. He also wrote historical books and biblical commentaries.